PAX Prime: First Impressions – Star Fox Zero (Wii U)

Wow…talk about an incredible setup of Star Fox Zero at PAX this year. Nintendo went all out in demo-ing this upcoming title, with full Arwing seats to sit inside of and massive screens for the fully immersive experience. Two members of the Nintendo Fire team had a chance to sit inside these machines to play through the game with surround sound.

Both these team members are familiar with Star Fox 64, and reported a lot of similarities between this new title and the old. There are familiar faces, dialogue that brings back old memories, and nostalgia moments that made the demo a bit like a trip down memory lane.

From the moment the demo began, it was clear that Nintendo has been working hard on creating a stellar graphic experience to really showcase the Wii U’s abilities—as much as it can, that is. Dodging lasers, soaring through a ravine, and maneuvering around in the air didn’t take long to get a handle on…for our team members, that is. Not everyone playing the demo around us had the same kind of experience.

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It’s not a surprise that Miyamoto has mentioned how much work is going into getting the controls right, and how he is determined to make sure that the control scheme experience is one that works for players despite its complexity. It’s the kind of thing that will take some getting used to, because this is not Star Fox 64 and that’s important to remember—strange as it may seem to say that.

The demo was set up with inverted controls, while the right joystick functioned as a D-pad. This meant pushing on the right stick while turning with the left…and things like boost and dive functioned with an upward shove of each respective joystick. If you get that wrong by accident and push on the wrong one…oops! Want to brake? Down on the left joystick. It’s a lot to remember, especially for a first-timer to a game like this. It’s the kind of system designed for precision movement, but getting to that point is quite the learning curve.

The other strange element was the camera, which does not move with the right joystick as one might expect. You have a choice between straight-on view and targeting, though the GamePad can be used to aim with precision through the gyroscope. This could be a really good system once used to it, but it can be disorienting to switch between the first-person of the main screen and third-person of the GamePad during those initial encounters.

Ultimately, our team came away from the demo feeling as though Star Fox Zero has a lot of potential—it’s fun, and the controls are something that, once you get a handle on them, can enhance the gameplay in a significant and challenging way. However, getting to that point may be a big ask for newer players to this type of game—or anyone with difficulty learning new and complex control schemes, really—so it will be interesting to see how Nintendo handles this steep learning curve as they finish up the game to bring it to market.

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Faith
Author: Faith View all posts by
Faith likes games and books and cake and writing and Lara Croft, not necessarily in that order. She also thinks a Skylanders cartoon show is a really, REALLY good idea...

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